Is your website dropping in the search engine page ranks (SERPs) despite all of your hard work?
The problem may not be with your content, but with how it’s structured and presented. Blog archives aside, older content often ends up in the “out of sight, out of mind” pile with your audience and Google algorithms.
Finding favor with Google is almost as important as pleasing your audience. They’ve become so synonymous with search that the very name is an active verb, and they’ve set the standard for how search and page evaluations are done.
To keep your pages ranking high, it’s advisable to regularly add fresh content to your website.
The Negative Aspects of Holding on to Older Content
Although the criteria they use to evaluate web pages changes, one constant remains: Google places user experience (UX) and content relevance above almost all other metrics.
If your content is old or the information outdated, this will affect your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and place you lower in the page ranks than competitors who update frequently.
Outdated content and false information also contribute to higher bounce rates, which further devalues your website in the eyes of Google. They like to promote what’s trending and viral, and so do people looking for information.
Seeing old dates or outdated stats makes you seem old and obsolete, which reflects poorly on your business.
You want to rank high, and you want to do it consistently.
Update Content and Improve Your Search Standing
Design best practices dictate that you should concentrate on content that’s above the fold. Even with mobile design and continuous scrolling, eye-tracking studies have found that most participants focused their attention on the upper 20 – 40 percent of the content on a website.
This also translates to search results. If your website isn’t found within the top five listings, you may as well not exist at all.
Rather than ignoring old material in favor of new content, you can promote previous posts and spark new life into your website.
There are several advantages to this practice.
#1 You’ll Have a Current Publication Date
When you’re looking for information, are you more likely to click if it was published several years ago or last week?
Readers – and Google – prefer information that’s near the cutting edge. They want recent statistics and topics that are trending. This is especially true in industries where information can become irrelevant within a short time.
#2 Your Visitors Will Enjoy Their Experience More
You have to be able to mesh ranking high with providing a great experience for your visitors. Making your content more current and readable will keep visitors on the page longer, and it will also improve the feel and relevance of your website, instill trust, establish your authority, and bring readers back time and again.
This improved experience adds to your other SEO efforts and keeps your pages in that cherished spot above the fold.
#3 You’ll Leverage the Authority of an Existing URL
When content is already well-received and optimized, updating it allows you to leverage that authority. This will bring in new readers and a new surge of enthusiasm.
You can rank for more keywords in the second round of publication, get rid of outdated links, and add links to trending posts.
#4 You’ll Attract More Links
Speaking of links, updating content to make it fresh and current may also allow you to attract attention from content creators and influencers who have risen in authority since your original publication.
This is not always the case, but it’s more likely that a rising star will promote something that’s fresh than content that’s dated.
#5 You’ll Update Your SEO
When was the last time you revisited your previous blog posts to make sure that your external links are working and the information is still relevant? Perhaps the post was written when single keywords were all the rage.
People change the way they search for information and the keywords they use all the time.
Reread older posts and look for opportunities to improve the title or emphasize long-tail keywords and keyword phrases. This allows you to capitalize on the popularity of sub-topics, broaden your reach, and enable more thorough SEO.
Updating Content the Easy Way
Many people struggle to find trending topics to write about from week to week. One advantage of updating or recycling your old content is that most of the work is already done. Even if the topic itself is evergreen, you can refresh the post by updating statistics or adding a coda to the original story.
However, you should never update material for the sake of doing it or refresh content in a way that seems inauthentic or clickbaity. You should also be aware that adding a new image or changing the title won’t merit a new publication date. Doing it too often can even have the opposite effect.
For Google crawlers to evaluate content as new, it must have substantial changes. This can be achieved by adding new sections to the original article, such as doubling your listicle from 10 items to 20, or rearranging and embellishing the post by increasing the overall word count.
One excellent example of how refreshing your content can benefit your ranking is SaaS businesses.
When you compare SaaS and eCommerce companies, you will see that their approach to SEO and content strategy is quite different.
Progress is happening fast in the SaaS business, as new solutions emerge daily. The average B2B SaaS blog loses traffic as newer posts with more recent data appear and competition increases. The way we do things today will most likely be disrupted tomorrow.
Outdated posts on SaaS B2B blogs can signal that the company is not too trustworthy if they still offer their audience data from four years ago.
Staying on top of changes, and updating the content to match those efforts, ensures that their visitors don’t bounce away immediately and helps build the company’s authority.
The best way to find success is to imitate the best. Brian Dean from Backlinko has mastered the art of updating content. He doesn’t publish often, but the way he updates his old content makes it seem new and relevant again.
The focus of his blog is SEO, where information, best practices, and data tend to change frequently. Updating his old posts ensures that he is always presenting his audience with correct, timely, and relevant information.
Look at similar websites that rank high, evaluate what they’re doing right, and follow the above recommendations if you want to keep your website perpetually high in the SERPs.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.